Hezbollah: Assad’s regime no longer in danger

Hassan Nasrallah says Syrian rebels are incapable of waging a ‘big’ war to topple the government

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The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is no longer in danger of falling, the leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper.

“The danger of the Syrian regime’s fall has ended,” Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with daily newspaper As-Safir.

The rebels “can opt for a war of attrition as long as there are countries funding it … But on the horizon, the opposition doesn’t seem to be able to wage a big war,” he added. “What is happening in Latakia and Kassab, we can’t call it a big war.”

Rebels battling Assad’s forces have recently waged war in the Syrian leader’s ancestral homeland in the coastal province of Latakia.

As part of their offensive in Syria’s rugged coastal region, considered to be a bastion of support for Assad, rebels captured the predominantly Christian Kassab, a small town in the northwest of the country.

Nasrallah said the three-year Syrian conflict has proved that the Assad regime is not “weak,” and the president enjoys “wide support.”

“We have passed the danger of dividing [Syria],” he said, adding that there were diplomatic offers given to President Assad from Arab states if he cuts ties with Iran.

He also added that Russia, after annexing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, will further its “support and protection to Syria.”

Nasrallah also said the threat of bombings in Lebanon “has dropped considerably” because of the “measures adopted along the Lebanese-Syrian border.”

Hezbollah militants have been fighting alongside Syrian government troops against the rebels trying to oust Assad from power.

The Shiite group’s fighters were instrumental in helping Assad’s forces dislodge opposition fighters from their strongholds along the countries’ border.

However, Hezbollah’s public role in the conflict has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon. The country’s Sunni Muslims support the Syrian rebels. In the past weeks, the Sunni militants have carried out several deadly attacks on Hezbollah strongholds around Lebanon, claiming they were in revenge for Hezbollah’s help to the Syrian government.

Syria’s conflict began with largely peace protests in March 2011. It has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones and Islamic extremists, including foreign fighters and Syrian rebels who have taken up hard-line al-Qaeda-style ideologies, have played an increasingly prominent role among fighters, dampening the West’s support.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the past three years, activists say.

Also, please see link: Assad tells former Russian prime minister that the “active phase” of the Syrian conflict will be over this year.

(With the Associated Press)

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